In I Thessalonians 5:16-22, the sometimes wordy Apostle Paul strings together a list of very clipped, concise instructions for the people of God: Rejoice evermore. Pray without ceasing. In every thing give thanks… and so forth. I don’t intend to deal with the passage here, but just to urge Christians to be praying during this time. I hope I can encourage faithful prayer for two particular things.
First, pray for our elected leaders, especially the Governor of your state. Pray for your county officials as well – your county commissioners, your county sheriff, your local health department, and so forth. These men and women are especially burdened right now with decisions that go beyond the norm. I cannot imagine the pressure they feel and the responsibility they carry. No doubt some of our nation’s Governors have handled this coronavirus pandemic better than others. I appreciate the way Utah’s Governor Gary Herbert has dealt with this so far, especially as he has avoided some of the heavy-handed tactics other Governors have used. No doubt any one of our nation’s Governors can be criticized for one thing or another. But I wouldn’t trade places with any of them. I am glad that I am not in their shoes. I cannot imagine the weight of responsibility they must feel at this time.
In our dealings with elected leaders, I hope we will all remember that they are in many ways a lot like us. They second guess themselves, they have doubts and fears and misgivings, and, apart from a few exceptions, they want to do what is good and right and best for the people. Most of what we know of politicians come from 10-second clips on the news. Personally, I wouldn’t want my life to be judged by a 10-second sound-bite. I have had the privilege of getting to know quite a few politicians and elected leaders in our area. I can’t speak for every politician in the country, but it seems to me that our local politicians get into this business so they can better our community. They would be the first to tell you that they don’t always get it right. They get frustrated like the rest of us. They wish they had a crystal ball to foresee the future so they could make the perfect decision. They feel our outrage and our disappointment with them very deeply and personally.
I am not asking you to stop holding them accountable. We should be watching what our elected leaders do. I am not asking you to give them a pass when they make the wrong decision. I am not asking you to leave them alone or to avoid any sort of confrontation. Most of them value the feedback they get from citizens, even if they disagree with it or decide to go a different direction.
I am asking you to pray for our elected leaders. Pray that principle will determine their decisions and that their policies will align faithfully with God’s Word and our Constitutional principles. Pray that they will guide their affairs with discretion. Pray that they will make wise decisions that will allow us to lead quiet and peaceable lives in all godliness. Pray that God will uphold them and sustain them at this time.
In all this turmoil, it would be worth its weight in gold for your elected leaders to hear a word of encouragement from you. They could retire early if all the criticisms they receive were turned to coin. A word of encouragement goes a long way for them.
Ricky Hatch is our Weber County Clerk/Auditor, and one of the top Clerk/Auditors in the nation – no exaggeration. He is a rock-solid conservative, devoted to the Constitution, and a great friend. Ricky put together this little spin on Mr. Roger’s Neighborhood (click the link to watch it) to give some guidance to those who work with Legislators. He offers some great advice. You can accomplish much by shaking your fist and glowering, no doubt. You will at least gain a reputation. But if you can respect your elected officials and try to work with them, you will find them much easier to deal with.
Second, pray for your pastor. I have had countless conversations with pastors over the past few weeks. In every one of those conversations, I hear a common thread. A pastor’s first concern is for the spiritual health and well-being of his people; a close second is for the spiritual needs of his community. Right now, a pastor’s ability to serve his people and his area has been limited. He feels like a hobbled racehorse running the derby. He navigates uncharted waters right now — the turbulence doesn’t make navigation any simpler.
Every pastor I know is deeply concerned about making the right decision in this situation. Pastors are very aware of the impression they are giving in whatever decision they make. Some will say that they are cowing or caving in. Some will say that they don’t care about the people of their community. Some will charge them with recklessness. Some will accuse them of cowardice. They want to glorify God and please Him. They desperately want to shepherd their people through these trying times.
Please, pray for your pastor. Every pastor in America has been faced with a gut-wrenching decision over the past few weeks. In a time of crisis, a faithful shepherd wants to gather his sheep around him so he can support and protect them. Yet, our current situation has made that very difficult.
Yesterday, I was told of a pastor who, to protect his flock from COVID-19, announced that they would be moving to online services. No sooner had he finished making the announcement than a family in the church met him at the front to say that they were resigning their membership immediately because of his decision.
Believer, I hope you will uphold your pastor in prayer. You might not like his decision, but do your best to support him in it. Understand what he is faced with right now. The people of God never need spiritual guidance more than in times like these. But because of the nature of this pandemic, Pastors find themselves hindered, prevented from giving the personal care and spiritual guidance Christians need. I hope you will take some time to think through what this must be like for your pastor.
We should all be praying fervently during this time. There is a great reunion day coming when those churches who have had to limit their services will be able to gather again in full strength. I imagine that day will be a little like that “Great Gettin’ Up Mornin’.” What a day that will be! We should all pray for it fervently.
Until then, every Christian should pray that God will accomplish His purpose in all of this, that we will surrender to Him and seek Him, that this disease will not claim too many lives, that unbelievers will come to repentance and that our nation will seek the Lord. We should all be upholding each other in prayer. Remember the sick and elderly in your church family, especially. And again, please pray that our reunion day will not be long delayed.
We can rejoice at this time because God’s will is being done. We are in God’s hands! Praise the Lord!